Glenn Tattersall: Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
Research: thermoregulation, stress physiology, respiratory physiology, integrative physiology, hypoxia tolerance, hypothermia, behavioural thermoregulation, autonomic regulation of body temperature
When we get cold, we put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat. When a frog faces freezing temperatures, it’s not quite as easy. Add in the stressors of life in the wild, and temperature regulation becomes a challenge for us all.
Glenn Tattersall’s research is proving that animals have evolved to possess numerous options for coping with all kinds of environmental stresses.
One goal of Tattersall’s research program is to understand how animals control their metabolism and body temperature during times when a high metabolic rate or high body temperature are impossible or inefficient to sustain, such as in ice-covered lakes, at high altitude, or in underground burrows where oxygen can be limited, or during hibernation or sleep.
Tattersall’s research is shedding light on how animals modify and manipulate body temperature and metabolism, in turn improving our understanding of the body’s ability to physiologically regulate its inner environment to ensure its stability in response to fluctuations in the outside environment and the weather.
Tattersall’s research has focused on a variety of animals, including bearded dragons, toads, frogs, squirrels, fish, pygmy marmosets, South American rattlesnakes, yellow spotted salamanders and the toco toucan.
By spanning multiple groups of animals, including humans, and demonstrating common principles, Tattersall’s research has broad implications for natural and biomedical applications.
For instance, his research questions relate to improving a practical understanding of the body’s natural thermostat. It also has implications for discovering novel mechanisms for artificially adjusting temperature during surgeries, as well as discovering thermoregulatory deficits that accompany certain illnesses associated with human neonates, such as sudden infant death syndrome and neonatal asphyxia.
More biologically speaking, Tattersall’s basic research is taking him toward research into how climate change impacts the animals around us, and whether these organisms can respond appropriately to the changing environment.